Community

The Forum of Young Global Leaders is a community of innovators from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Search current members and alumni by year awarded, sector or region.

Elsie S. Kanza

Head of the Regional Agenda, Africa; Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum, Switzerland

Elsie S. Kanza is a Tanzanian economist who is Special Adviser to the President of the World Economic Forum (WEF). As the head of the WEF’s regional agenda on Africa and member of the Executive Committee, since 2011 she has led numerous public-private collaboration initiatives to solve complex systemic challenges related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals and African Union Agenda 2063. From 2006 to 2011, Kanza served as economic advisor to the President of Tanzania. Between 1997 and 2006, she worked in Tanzania’s finance ministry and its central bank.

Currently a Richard von Weizsacker Fellow, Kanza has been recognized for her achievements in advancing economic development. In 2008, she became an Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellow, and in 2011 a WEF Young Global Leader. In 2020, the magazine Forbes Africa listed her as one of Africa’s 50 most powerful women. She has served on various boards, including those of the African Leadership Institute - South Africa, Mercy Corps Europe, The Nature Conservancy Africa Council, and the Uongozi Institute.

In 2015, Kanza was awarded a Doctorate of Business Administration (honors causa) from the University of Strathclyde for her role in driving transformative impact in Africa. She also holds a MA in Development Economics from the Center for Development Economics – Williams College; a MSc in Finance from the University of Strathclyde; and a BSc (cum laude) in International Business Administration from the United States International University - Africa.

Shira Kaplan

Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cyverse, Switzerland

Shira Kaplan is the Founder and CEO of Cyverse AG, a Zurich-based cyber-security firm which delivers innovative, hands-on Israeli cyber-security solutions to global and local corporations. Shira’s technological training dates back to her military service in the Israeli 8200 Elite Technology Unit of the Intelligence, where she was an Intelligence and Cyber Analyst. She held business management positions at publicly-traded companies including Teva Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (NASDAQ: TEVA) and Bank Julius Baer & Co. in Zurich (SIX: BAER). Shira is an alumna of Harvard University (B.A.), where she studied Government and Chinese, and was a Shelby Davis Scholar. She holds an MBA from St. Gallen HSG University in Switzerland, where she was awarded the “Women in Business” Scholarship. Shira has won several other awards, including the “Seeds of Peace” scholarship, the Goldman fellowship and the Milken Fellowship. She has been featured in the Financial Times, the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, Bilanz, PwC CEO Magazine and other newspapers. She is mother of 3 Montessori children, and resides by the Lake of Zurich.

Dennis Karpes

Co-Founder and Creative Director, Justdiggit Foundation, Netherlands

Dennis Karpes is the Founder of Dance4Life, a dynamic international movement that inspires, mobilizes and unites young people to increase awareness about HIV/AIDS through educational projects and dance events. Dance4Life has become an internationally recognized organization that is active in more than 30 countries worldwide. Karpes' strength is to develop and realize creative concepts and market these to the public. Besides Dance4Life, one of these concepts is Kuyichi, a sustainable international jeans brand, which he co-initiated as Marketing Director. Currently, Karpes is also Co-Founder and Director of the Naga Foundation, which aims to tackle one of the greatest environmental challenges of today: pushing back desertification. The Naga Foundation transforms desertified land into fertile land by restoring the water absorption capacity and soil stability to enable sustainable agriculture and improve biodiversity while benefiting rural livelihoods.

Neema Kaseje

Surgeon, Médecins Sans Frontières, Switzerland

Dr Neema Kaseje: ​is a pediatric surgeon and public health specialist. She is an expert in building pediatric surgical care delivery with previous experience in Kenya, Haiti, Congo, CAR, and Liberia. In Haiti, she served as the only pediatric surgeon in the public sector and scaled up pediatric surgical care delivery in the region through the training of junior doctors. As a result, her team was able to double the number of children accessing life saving pediatric surgical care. Similarly in Liberia, she was part of the first cohort of surgeons stationed to the first pediatric surgical program by a humanitarian organization such as Doctors Without Borders. Once again, she emphasized training and the setting of minimum standards and protocols as the foundation for improving access to pediatric surgical care in complex humanitarian settings. In Kenya, she has contributed to improved access to pediatric surgical care by leveraging technology and community health workers as powerful forces for the early detection and referral of children in need of life saving surgical care. In Turkana, Kenya, she is mobilizing women leaders to tackle the persistently elevated maternal mortality that is disproportionately affecting adolescent girls. These activities are key to the global conversations on health leadership as a mechanism for improved health, social cohesion, and inclusive economic development.

She is Founding Director of the Surgical Systems Research Group based in Kisumu, Kenya. She is committed to global health equity and improving access to surgical care as a pathway to rapidly achieving Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. She is actively involved in the Global Initiative for Children's Surgery. She is committed to youth in Africa and recently launched leadership training bootcamps for young girls aspiring to be leaders in health, technology, and science. There are plans to hold these leadership training bootcamps in Kakuma in 2020. She was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2017, and was recently appointed as the focal point for the World Health Organization Programme in Emergency and Essential Surgical Care. She is currently leading a Wellcome Trust funded integrated community and health systems based COVID -19 health intervention in Siaya, Kenya.

Piia-Noora Kauppi

Managing Director, Finance Finland, Finland

Managing Director of Finance Finland since 2009. Member of the Board of Directors & Chairman of the Audit Committee, UPM Kymmene plc, Board member of Finnish Financial Ombudsman Bureau. Member of the Board of Trustees of Helsinki Deaconess Institute and HSE Foundation. Member of the European Parliament 1999–2008, Head of the Finnish Delegation in the EPP-ED Group 2004–2008. President of the European Banking Industry Committee EBIC 2010-2011. Chairman of the European Banking Federation Executive Committee 2014-2015.
Mrs Kauppi is married to Mr. Jussi Antero Järvinen (Partner, KPMG Finland) with four children, born in 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2017. On her freetime she loves skiing, running and triathlon.

Valerie Keller

Co-Founder, Imagine, United Kingdom

Imagine Co-Founder and CEO, Valerie helps leaders use their power for good. With deep expertise in transformation, she helps global corporations become purpose-led and future-fit -- and convenes cross-sector coalitions to accelerate tipping points for humanity’s Global Goals.



Valerie is an Associate Fellow of the University of Oxford Saïd Business School where she directs executive education programs.

Founder of Veritas and of Beacon Institute, she served as EY Global Markets Executive Director and CEO of US-based social enterprises addressing homelessness, healthcare and housing.

She was selected as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and serves on the Harvard Kennedy School Women’s Leadership Board.

Niki Kerameus

Minister of Education and Religious Affairs, Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs of Greece, Greece

Niki K. Kerameus started her career as a lawyer on major litigations, such as Enron and the AOL-Time Warner. While in Government, she has served on committees dealing with e-goverment, constitutional reform, education and youth.

Georges Kern

Chief Executive Officer, Breitling SA, Switzerland

Georges Kern studied Political Science in Strasbourg, France, and graduated in Business Administration
from the University of St.Gallen in Switzerland. He acquired experience in the fast-movingconsumer-goods
sector at Kraft Foods Switzerland before moving into the watch industry at TAG Heuer.

In 2000, he joined Richemont, the Swiss luxury goods group, and was active in the integration of
the brands A. Lange & Söhne, Jaeger-LeCoultre and IWC Schaffhausen following their acquisition.
In 2002, at the age of 36, he became the youngest CEO within Richemont when he was chosen to
run IWC Schaffhausen. In 2017, he was promoted to Head of Watchmaking, Marketing and Digital
at Richemont and focused on supervising the Specialist Watchmaking Maisons.

In 2017, Georges Kern was appointed the new CEO of the independent watch company Breitling
SA, where he is also a shareholder. In his new position, Georges Kern’s mission is to foster the
global development of one of the world’s most established watch manufacturers, and to focus on
further developing Breitling’s digital and retail footprint, in particular with a view to accelerating
growth in the important Asian markets.

Georges Kern served as a member of the Young Global Leaders at the World Economic Forum from
2005 to 2010, and became Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community in Zurich in 2011.

Nora Khaldi

Founder and Chief Science Officer, Nuritas, Ireland

Nora Khaldi is an award-winning TEDx speaker and a highly published mathematician and scientist. Her revolutionary and innovative ideas and inventions have been awarded and recognized by the likes of Forbes, Wired and the European Union Commission. She is the founder of Nuritas, the first company in the world to introduce artificial intelligence to the food arena, with the aim of creating the future of food and personalized nutrition, in a nutshell, the future of health. Nuritas was recently classified among the 21 most innovative start-ups in the world along with Uber.

Uday H. Khemka

Vice-Chairman, SUN Group, United Kingdom

MA, Cambridge University; MBA, Harvard University (Baker Scholar). Vice Chairman SUN Group; Executive Chairman SUN-AMP (India-focused distributed generation solar power producer) and Head of SUN Group renewable energy sector activities; Head real estate sector activities and Member of Board SUN-Ares (Indian Real Estate investment manager) also co-led asset management, private equity and venture capital business, India, and board member of group companies involved in mining and energy sector activities. Co-leads family's philanthropic activities including N.J. Khemka Foundation, with a special focus on renewable energy and climate change; Chairman of the Clean Energy Finance Forum and Solar Rooftop Policy Coalition (focused on Government of India's renewable energy strategy and goals) ; Founder, UK on-line charitable platform, JustGiving; also member of boards of various international institutions focused on climate change, education, public health, and poverty and development; elected a Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Sebastián Kind

Chief Executive Officer and Chairman, Green Map, Belgium

Undersecretary of Renewable Energy of Argentina (2016-2017), and Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (2018-2019), he was responsible for the country’s energy transition toward a cleaner matrix. Sebastian is the architect and primary driver of the innovative RenovAr program, which has resulted in over US$ 7,4 billion and 5 GW in clean energy investments since its launch in 2016.
Sebastián has 20 years of experience in the energy industry. He is the founding director of the Master of Science in Renewable Energy Program at National Technological University (UTN), and played an instrumental role working with Argentina’s National Senate as author of the Renewable Energy National Law. He has advised on renewable energy projects for many public and private institutions around the world and has held various executive positions in the private sector in Europe and Latin America.
In 2017, Sebastián worked with Harvard University in setting up RenovAr as a Case Study due to its outstanding achievements. In 2018 he was appointed as Chair of the Council of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and was selected as Fellow of the Eisenhower Foundation (EF) in Philadelphia and as Global Leader of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Geneva in recognition of his accomplishments and commitment to promoting a more peaceful, prosperous and just world. In 2019, he received the Clean Energy Award of the Latin American and Caribbean Council on Renewable Energy (LAC- CORE) and the Climate Breakthrough Project award (an initiative of the Packard Foundation with the support of the Oak, Good Energies, and IKEA Foundations), a 2 Million USD prize for developing GREENMAP (Global Renewable Energy Mass Adoption Program), a breakthrough strategy to help deploying renewables at a global scale. Sebastian has also received in 2019 the LIDE award of the year in recognition to his contribution to the Energy sector.
Sebastián holds a degree in mechanical engineering from UTN in Argentina and earned a MSc. in Renewable Energy from EUREC Agency in Brussels, NTUA in Greece and University of Zaragoza in Spain. He also holds an Executive Development Diploma from IAE Business School and has participated in various executive programs at Harvard University.

Akira Kirton

Vice-President, Global Acetyls, bp, United Kingdom

Akira Kirton is a purpose & values driven leader, with a huge passion for diversity and sustainability. He has spent his career working in the chemicals & energy manufacturing sectors - in both commercial/operational & business development/innovation roles.

Akira is Vice President of Global Acetyls. In this role, he has full commercial & operational accountability for Acetyls Globally (~$2.5bn business). His business is at the forefront of fighting CV-19, with product sales going into key sectors such as pharmaceuticals (ibuprofen, paracetamol, insulin) and powder detergents. Akira has accountability for 9 operational sites across US, Europe & Asia (Korea, Malaysia, & 6 China JV's).

Prior to this role, Akira was Commercial Director for the European Acetyls business. In this role, Akira led on programmes in sustainability, agile, and digital for the business – particular Zero-Carbon Humber, WEF Low Carbon Chemicals Biomass Group, and Acetylated Wood (Tricoya). Akira is bp's Board Director for Tricoya Technologies (sustainable wood production), having structured & led the investment/spin-out from Accsys plc in 2014/15.

Across 2012-17, Akira was Managing Director for bp Ventures Europe & Asia, growing the portfolio to $500m capital invested, having led a number of game-changing deals in green manufacturing, CO2 to chemicals, mobility & digital. Akira was Portfolio Director & Board Director for the green manufacturing sector, with board roles with Fulcrum Bioenergy (waste to biojet), Solidia (low carbon cement/concrete products), Tricoya (acetylated wood), Liquid Light (CO2 to chemicals), CarbonFree Chemicals (CO2 to bicarbonates), StoreDot (ultra-fast charging batteries); and originated and led the structuring for the OGCI CI ($1bn climate fund).

Akira has experience in the public sector and was seconded to the UK Energy Technologies Institute ($1b UK Gov backed climate change/sustainability fund) for three years. He sat on the UK Chief Scientific Advisor’s Group on Bioenergy and was Director for Strategy for Biomass and Distributed Energy; developing the priorities to 2050 for >$1trn in investment focus.

Prior to this, Akira worked globally in business development roles, engineering, and technology roles in Chemicals, Fuels, and Trading for both bp & Ineos.

External Profile: Akira has been recognised as #4 Rising Star (out of 10,000) by Global Corporate Venturing in 2018; a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader (2015-20); A Fellow of the Marshall Memorial Foundation 2012; and a 2008 IChemE Award for Innovation.

On a pro-bono basis, Akira is a Trustee of #iamthecode: A UN HCR & WEF YGL backed global charity focussed on providing STEM skills/digital skills to underprivileged young women/girls, targeting 1m by 2030. Akira sits on the board of trustees with Founder/CEO Marieme Jamme (#Truly Inspirational), Kelly Buchanon (YGL), and Patron - Christoper Schlaeffer (YGL) - with strong support from Unilever, UBS, Salesforce, AliBaba, Coursera and more....